Home > Brew session > Choking Sun and choking synapses

Choking Sun and choking synapses

sm20090801 004Saturday my cousin and I tackled a 20 gallon batch of Choking Sun Stout, our house standard stout and a favorite of my cousin’s and his band mates. 10 gallons of this batch is destined for a band event in Atlanta (the namesake of said stout). The day went pretty well, despite me feeling extremely overheated and suffering from a severe lack of organization and attention at times. Despite my hiccups, I’m convinced this batch will turn out fantastic.

sm20090801 003The inital part of the brew began flawlessly – We mashed in and nailed our target temperature. We heated our sparge water and mash-out water additions in plenty of time, and the final temperature of the mash before we began sparging was mid 160s. The grant transferred the wort to the kettle perfectly, and everything was humming along.

Then I payed more attention to my PC and realized the SQL Server service wasn’t running, and all my readings for the first 2.5 hours were being spit out to an error log flat file. CRAP. So I start up SQL server, use the “Process SQL Backlog” option in BrewzNET, and everything seems to be OK – for about 5 seconds. BrewzNET throws a UI error, and I get kicked into the debugger. After the panic-driven addition of a TRY/CATCH code block to trap the error, more errors pop up. I stop BrewzNET and take a critical look at what is going on – and realize that the Error log was processed and deleted, but I had stopped BrewzNET before it had actually processed the SQL statements, so I just canned 2.5 hours worth of data. Aaaaaaaaargh! Oh well, at least the beer is fine. Just my data is toast. I restart BrewzNET and catch the last 20 minutes of the sparge, which continued without any problems – no stuck mashes, no grain crud in the kettle, etc.

The boil begins and I use my new timer widget to track the elapsed time and boil addition times for hops… Which seems to work well, so long as I pay attention to it. I completely forgot to add the immersion chiller at 20 minutes remaining (it went in somewhere around 10 minutes), missed my 10 minute additon by about 1.5 minutes due to futzing around with the immersion chiller, forgot to add the whirfloc until about 3 minutes remaining… Ack! Once again, none of this will impact the beer quality or taste, I just felt extremely frazzled and out of sorts. This was not my standard textbook by-the-numbers brew behavior.

sm20090801 002We got the wort chilled to 68 degrees, oxygenated it and pitched the yeast. Carboys were carefully moved to the basement, and fermentation had kicked off within 12 hours. The 12 gallon fermenter rose to around 72 degrees, so I had to scramble a little to try to bring its temperature down. About 4 hours later the 12 gallon fermenter blew out the airlock, so I had to re-sanitize and replace it… along with a few drops of foam control to prevent further blowouts. Things are chugging along now.

Lessons learned:

  1. Keep your eye on the ball – namely brewing beer, not playing with computer applications or socializing and drinking beer.
  2. Program an audible alert into the timer widget. Hearing an alert go off is invaluable when you’re not standing infront of the monitor.
  3. Put more than hop additions into the timer – add the immersion chiller, Whirfloc and yeast nutrient too.
  4. Build in a subroutine to check whether the SQL Server service is actually running or not. Would have been much less traumatic if I had realized earlier than later.
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Categories: Brew session
  1. August 6, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Sounds like a good brew day to me! 🙂

  1. August 6, 2009 at 10:47 pm

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